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Benjamin Franklin

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Benjamin Franklin

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." Having followed his own words of wisdom, Benjamin Franklin made an everlasting mark on America since his early days as a printing apprentice.

Born to Josiah and Abiah Franklin on January 17, 1706 in Boston, New England (now known as Massachusetts), Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son of seventeen children. Early on, Franklin excelled in grammar school and was good when it came to writing, so his father sent him to a writing and arithmetic school. While there he continued to do well in writing but failed arithmetic.

At around ten years of age Franklin left school to help his father's soap making business. Two years later, and after observing many different trades, Franklin was persuaded to become a printing apprentice of his brother James until the age of twenty-one. While working as an apprentice Franklin also satisfied his appetite for reading and debating by borrowing books whenever he could and engaging in friendly argument with another boy named John Collins. Although the two eventually parted ways they remained friends, and their friendly arguing in conjunction with his love of literature helped Franklin to substantially improve his writing skills. Eager to have some of his writing published in his brother's newspaper, and knowing that his brother would not publish anything of his, Franklin wrote anonymous letters and delivered them to the printing house at night. Many of his letters were printed before he finally revealed that he had been submitting the anonymous letters.

Later on, differences arose between Benjamin and James that caused Ben to run away to New York and then Philadelphia in search of a printing job. After a little searching, and a little help from another printer's father, Franklin found work at Keimer's printing house. Through his acquaintances Franklin managed to get support from the governor, but not his father, to set up a printing shop; all this and he wasn't even twenty-one years of age! However, when he went to London to pick up printing supplies he discovered that the governor whom he thought supported him had lied to him about setting up a printing shop. Having found this out, he searched for and found work at a famous printing house in London. Franklin stayed in London for eighteen months before heading back to Pennsylvania.
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